Support program changes deliver better deal for families in need


Changes to the Australian Government's Family Support Program have the potential to free up services from overly burdensome red tape and reporting requirements, according to Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) Executive Director Frank Quinlan.

Announced yesterday by the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin MP, the Government will be streamlining more than 20 programs into four, providing more flexibility to meet families’ needs while ensuring the important elements of the current Family Support Program are retained.

The four programs are:

  • Communities for Children to provide prevention and early intervention to families with children up to 12 years. This will include meeting the needs of Indigenous families in remote locations;
  • Family Counselling Services to deal with adult relationship issues, counselling for children and broader parenting support;
  • Specialist Services, including Kids in Focus and Specialised Family Violence Services, to help families affected by drugs, violence and trauma; and
  • Community Playgroups to support mums and dads with young children.

In response to the announcement, Mr Quinlan said the reforms will allow the Government to work together with service providers in directing services to families in need.

"The Government is making significant changes to family services and it is heartening to hear that the Minister is not starting with a blank canvas," Mr Quinlan said.

"To learn the Government is going to build on programs that are working and negotiate with agencies that have a proven track record in meeting the needs of families in their local communities is very welcome indeed.

"Our agencies want to spend their time delivering services, not dealing with red tape. Minister Macklin is to be congratulated for listening to those agencies, and for working with them to improve services. Healthy families build a healthy society and our member agencies throughout regional, rural and metropolitan Australia play an intrinsic role in contributing to this objective."

Centacare Catholic Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta is one of 69 member agencies of CSSA.

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